Years ago, I knew Jesus. I prayed about everything. I praised him over and over for changing my life. Everything made sense. Just pray, just trust God- he is near, he hears, he loves us, and he is active in this world, in our lives.
I felt so good. Honestly, I wish my life could be like that again.
But it's a skewed view of the world. It's just focused on me and my individual relationship with God. And it can't explain tragedies and injustice happening with God seemingly absent.
My world was so small. It was just my little white American Christian life and very strong devotion to my God. As I learned more and more about feminism and the injustice in the world, my whole perspective unraveled.
So I started to view the world from a feminist point of view. Focusing on unjust systems and discrimination against groups of people. Reading blogs from a ton of diverse writers so I could educate myself. Writing about these issues on my blog, hoping I can somehow help to right the wrongs and change this world so it doesn't oppress people. (And I believe someday God will do just that.)
But this is also a skewed view of the world. It focuses so much on what's wrong, and so has led me to believe that God doesn't care and God doesn't help people. I'm a Christian, but I question what the point is of being a Christian. Yeah the bible says we're supposed to pray, but why? God didn't protect the victims I read about online- why should he help me with mundane things like my job?
In other words, I've come to believe that the existence of any horrible event anywhere in the world makes my relationship with God meaningless. And that's certainly a skewed view of the world.
(I know there's a reason that feminism focuses on the bad things. We want to call attention to those things so we can fight against them and help people. That's valid. But don't forget, that's not the whole story.)
I tried to make my world bigger, to care about other people besides myself. I tried to love the whole world, which is full of people who are different from me, people with problems I can't relate to.
I want to know this big beautiful world and all the people God loves, but it's too much for me, and somehow all I've been able to see is the suffering.
I have a skewed view of the world.
So now, I've moved to China. Every day is full of new, strange, and challenging things, and I don't have the mental capacity to care about the rest of the world too. My world is smaller now. I just focus on navigating myself around all the things in my own life- making new friends, finding a place to live, taking care of my little cat, being a good teacher, figuring out which bus route to take, cooking Chinese food.
My world is smaller now. I'll learn to live here, and I hope I can find God, and pray for his help, and thank him for everything he's done for me- just like the writer of Psalm 71.
And still, I'll have a skewed view of the world. I'm here in a big city in China, presumably making more money than the average Chinese worker. My students are those who have enough money to afford English classes. Yep.
I'll always have a skewed view of the world. It's unavoidable. The world is so big, there is so much stuff happening ALL THE TIME- so much data, and it NEEDS to be filtered down to a small enough file size where my brain can process it. Maybe the filter I use is "things that happen to me." Or "things I read about in the news." Or "things I read on Christian blogs [or feminist blogs or whatever]."
My world will never be an accurate picture of the real world.
And maybe that's one of the reasons I moved to China. To understand more about what people are like, what the world is like. Still nowhere close to a full picture though.
So let my world be smaller. I'll find God. I'll love people. I'll pray for my friends.
Let my world be smaller, because I can't know everyone. I can't love everyone. I'm not God.
I'll always have a skewed view of the world. And now that I live in China, it'll skew in a different direction than before. And maybe that's the best I can do.
This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 71. To read other people's posts, click here: The Intersection of Our Desires and Our Prayers.